Rode up to check out the first half of the SSUSA course yesterday. I had so much fun on the back half the other day I'd thought I'd give it a whirl. This half started off the same. Instead of dropping into the Arizona trail on the left (at the top of the 9 mile climb) I would go right.
Super fast swooping single track for about 3 miles dumps you out on a road. On this road you go about a half mile to a series of gates. The gates on the left go into a corral with no singletrack in sight. Can't be that way, right? So even though the map says left at gates I continue to follow this road hoping to see the trail somewhere. A few miles later and I'm back on Redington Rd (the opening climb). Ok,a slight detour, I'll just jump back into the singletrack I started on and in a few minutes I'll be back at the gates, at least I'll get to know this piece well. Back at the gates, I go through the corral and see a washed out stream bed ahead. This is the trail? Must be! Using my backwoods tracking skills I follow a Kenda Nevegal footprint through the stream bed. Sometimes riding, sometimes walking this is tough going. The stream turns to trail and eventually dumps you out on FR4426 where you make a left. FR4426 is a long exposed climb up to the top of Chiva Falls where you make a right on FR4405. We all know I love riding fire roads (sarcastic tone).
Here's where the story gets good: I'm looking for a corral then a piece of singletrack under a tree (great description). Finding the corral (I think) but I can't find the single track, Must be up the road further. I descend on this fire road with my chest on the saddle for what seems like miles until I come to a river. This river looks to be about 6" deep with a sandy bottom so I pull a wheelie drop off the bank into the river, fully expecting to ride right across.
Wrongo!! Front wheel goes into the sand up to the headset (no bullshit), I manage to put my left foot down before going OTB and am now stuck in quicksand up to my hip. Looking like I'm pulling off some strange yoga pose (standing crane with bike between legs) , I manage to wriggle myself free. At this point this is not fun anymore, I'm in the middle of the desert, lost, stuck in quicksand and know I have a lengthy walk ahead of me. Remember all the fun downhill? I now have to backtrack to who knows where, Maybe the whole course? And it's getting hot. After a long hot walk I come back onto the corral and right there, plain as day is the missing singletrack. How did I miss it? I curse under my breath and take the remainder of the course out to Redington Rd.
I arrive back at my mothers house an hour or so later a beaten man. My 3hr planned ride turned into a five and a half hour epic and I averaged 140 bpm the whole time. Not what I was looking for four days before a race.
James is coming in later today and I'm sure he'll want to ride. I think I'll rest till then...
P.S. If your strategy for the race this Saturday was to follow me? You may want to rethink that...Under my direction, we might not make it back for the after party...